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New professional BBQ league kicking off in June

By BBQ News Cooking Crew

The world of barbecue has seen many different organizations come and go over our 27 plus years in the business. Some were gone before they ever really got started, and others just could not find enough support to survive. On March 20, 2017, we learned of a brand new sanctioning organization that we think will not only survive, but will actually thrive. The United Competition BBQ League (UCBL) is the brainchild of Jeff Petkevicius from the Give it to God BBQ team.

In a short phone interview on the morning of the 20th, we learned that this new organization has been in the process of being planned for some time now, but only since January have they really started putting boots on the ground to plan the new league. Seven UBCL events already exist, and they are currently signing up teams and judges for these at their website, www.unitedbbqleague.com.

Score Card for the United Competition BBQ League

This new competition organization has several true barbecue ambassadors on its board of directors, including John David Wheeler from Memphis Barbecue Co., Justin Ferguson from BRQ, and Dave Whiting with Mission Bar-B-Que. This group, along with several other board members and Jeff, have come up with a very impressive plan to make sure cooks and judges can help each other and improve their skill sets. This feat will be accomplished by each team getting to see their actual score cards for each entry, with all seven criteria completed with comments. This is much like the Steak Cookoff Association has set up their scoring fields, where the judge simply gives a score for a criteria and then circles too much or not enough to help the cook understand why it wasn’t a perfect entry to them.

The seven different criteria for each entry will be appearance, aroma, texture, salt, spice, smoke, and overall impression. We are sure that as a cook team we will be in love with seeing this feedback from our entries…even if it hurts our feelings and we disagree with some judgments. Teams can only improve on their turn-ins by understanding what the judges are looking for.

Jeff explained this really well when he told us, “Your neighbor or buddy will not tell you the truth about your BBQ because you are giving it to him for free, and all of our neighbors love to eat our stuff.”

Family and friends can sometimes help us if they understand our thought process in preparing an entry, but often times they have no idea what is actually involved in creating that one all important bite. Getting feedback from the actual scorer themselves will indeed help teams understand what the perfect entry could look, smell, and taste like.

Four main categories will be used in the UCBL, consisting of chicken, ribs, pork, and brisket. Chicken is described as individual pieces and not quarters or halves. Ribs will be baby backs or spares and must have meat on the bone, with no loose or pulled meat allowed in the turn in box. Pork entry will come from the whole shoulder, Boston butt, or picnic, and the entry before cooking must weigh four pounds. Beef brisket will come from packers, flats, or points and cannot include corned beef or pastrami. All entries must have at least seven servings. We really love the fact that the entry boxes themselves will not have garnish in them, as the meat itself will be judged and not its surroundings.

Scoring matrix for the new United Competition BBQ League.

UCBL will consist of two types of events. There will be the League events that will be held in various state parks across the country, as well as different sanctioned events where organizers are able to have UCBL come and officiate over their barbecue events. The League will also be hosting a World Championship where the top 10 teams will come together for a final showdown for this major cookoff event. The biggest catch to this event will be that the head cooks from teams finishing 11-20 will be invited to judge the event of their peers and will be determining who will be the first overall UCBL World Champion.

Their mission statement sums up the goals and intentions of the organization really well and is as follows. “BBQ is an American tradition centered around Family, Friends and making Lifetime memories. The United Competition BBQ League (UCBL) is an organization that facilitates the education and growth of professional BBQ PitMasters through sanctioning Professional BBQ Contests. Our purpose is to keep the cook teams, front and center, with all sanctioning, judging and contest administration processes and procedures.  Our desire is to see cooks progress in their contest performances through detailed and articulated feedback from the judging process.”

The United Competition BBQ League will host and sanction its first event on June 10, 2017, in McComb, MS, at Percy Quinn State Park. They have made a very smart decision in limiting the inaugural event to 20 teams and will be doing a judges’ training the night before the event. This will help them “practice” one last time before going live. If this event mirrors everything else we have seen about this association, then this should be an excellent and well-planned event without any kinks in the process. These guys have really done their homework in putting this deal together, and we are planning to attend and judge this kick-off event.

You can learn more about this exciting new organization at their website at www.UnitedBBQLeague.com.